Secrets of the Sweetest Friendships
Updated: Aug 17
"...a sweet friendship refreshes the soul..." Proverbs 27:9
It used to be easy, making new friends. You'd meet a kid on the playground and if you both liked playing tag, the connection was formed. Within a half-hour, this may even be your new best friend. It's not quite so easy now as an adult. Maybe the criteria for the "best friend" position has gotten more selective. Or life gets busy and it's harder to get out there and meet someone new. Maybe we even forget how...
While it's true that some of the sweet simplicity of childhood friendships is stripped away in adulthood, the desire for these special connections remains. Multiple moves to new cities in my adult life have exposed this need even more- the need for genuine, healthy relationships with other women. The starting over is never easy, but as I've continued to pray for new relationships, I've never gone without a friend. In fact, it was one of my dear friends, Jessica, who shared the idea for this topic. Cultivating healthy relationships with others is a subject we've frequently discussed over the past year-and-a-half. Here's what we came up with regarding the secrets behind forming the sweetest of friendships...
It takes some effort. It takes intentionality. As Jess wisely noted, social media has the ability to bring people together but it can also easily keep others at arm's length. We sometimes think we know what's going on from a distance but the real stuff remains beyond the screens. Go out of your way to get to know what's really going on in the life of a good friend.
Ask specifically- and often- how you can encourage and pray for your friend. And when you ask someone how you can be praying for them, actually DO it, right there together. Follow up with them to see how things are going. This in my opinion is what brings you the closest to someone else, when you share the nitty gritty of life together.
Listen. I've shared this with clients who have asked how to build trust in a relationship, especially a new one. Take a backseat in your conversations now and then and really listen to what the other person has to say. Not only does it provide insight on this other person's character, but it's essential to being a good friend. If you're willing to actively listen to someone's life story, you're offering an open invitation for them to be more genuine and vulnerable in the relationship.
Don't just share all the bad things. Be careful to monitor yourself for this in addition to filtering the friendship itself. While the relationship should be a safe place to share the good, bad, and ugly, it can't just always be the bad and the ugly. If you have an especially negative friend, encourage a shift in perspective. Ask them about something they're looking forward to or one thing they're thankful for today. That's not disallowing them to share the hard thing, just promoting healthy perspective.
Boundaries. For a refresher on the topic, read the full post here. The sweetest of friendships still has solid boundaries. It is also marked by accountability, a word we historically don't like so much, but is crucial to a healthy relationship. A true friend may not affirm every life choice you make. Instead, they'll tell you some of the things you hate but may need to hear.
Know your role. You are important to your best buddy. Undoubtedly. But your bosom friend doesn't take the place of your spouse. In fact, a true friend will be actively advocating for you in your own life roles- as a wife, mother, in other friendships, etc. Is your friend encouraging you, intentionally uplifting you in your daily life?
No matter what season of life it is, we need friends and fellowship. Even if you're more of an introverted homebody, we're created to be social, to connect with that other person who has the same random interests, the mom who is also pulling her hair out over the angsty teenager or rambunctious toddler. Thank God for relationships and how they can sharpen, challenge, and encourage us.
If you have a close friend- or a few- give them a little shoutout of gratitude today. If you're looking for that special connection of true friendship, ask for it! No concern of yours is too small a care for Him. Put yourself in a position to BE a friend, and relationships will come.